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Gossage voted into baseball Hall; Rice just misses

1/8/2008 - MLB

NEW YORK -- On his first day as a Hall of Famer, Goose
Gossage tossed some high, hard ones at Roger Clemens and
Barry Bonds.

"I think that if you did do performance-enhancing drugs, you
need to come clean and put an end to this," Gossage said. "Just
fess up."

After falling short eight times, Gossage received 85.8 percent
of the vote Tuesday, easily surpassing the 75 percent threshold for
baseball's highest honor and becoming just the fifth reliever in
Cooperstown's bullpen.

Angry that the Steroids Era has skewed statistics, Gossage said
Bonds and Clemens were in the same situation as far as he was
concerned. Both have been accused of using steroids.

"Now we've got to figure out who's telling the truth, and I
think that some day we will know the truth," Gossage said.

Gossage said players shouldn't be afraid of admitting they used
performance-enhancing drugs. He cited Clemens' close friend,
Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte.

"Pettitte came clean. There's been other guys that said they
did it," Gossage said. "Life is going to go on."

Mark McGwire, his image in shreds since telling Congress in 2005
that he wouldn't talk about the past, received 128 votes from
10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America --
matching the total from last year, when he was eligible for the
first time. His percentage was 23.6 percent.

"I don't think this steroid thing is over by any means. I'm
sure that most of you guys, the writers, don't really know how to
approach this," Gossage during a BBWAA conference call.

Known for his overpowering fastball, fiery temperament and bushy
mustache, the Goose received 466 of 543 votes.

"It was very emotional I'll tell you, off the charts. I can't
describe the feeling," he said after learning the news. "I can't
lie. There's been some frustration and some disappointment."

Jim Rice was passed over yet again in his next-to-last year on
the ballot, getting 392 votes (72.2 percent), up from 346 (63.5
percent) last year but 16 short of the 75 percent needed.

"Today's results are obviously a disappointment," Rice said in
a statement. "I believe my accomplishments speak for themselves,
and a majority of the voters seem to agree. It is tough to come
this close, but I remain hopeful for the 2009 results."

Gossage, who fell short by 21 votes last year, was on just 33.3
percent of the ballots when he appeared for the first time in 2000.
He joins Hoyt Wilhelm (1985), Rollie Fingers (1992), Dennis
Eckersley (2004) and Bruce Sutter (2006) as the only relievers in
the Hall.

Gossage was sitting in a recliner in his living room overlooking
the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, Colo., when he received
the call. He turned to reporters in the room and said, "Oh my God,
I've been elected."

"A shock wave went through my body like an anvil just fell on
my head," Gossage said. "I think having to wait makes it that
much more special."

His mother died in 2006, Gossage said with tears welling up in
his eyes, and he had hoped she would live long enough to see him
inducted.

Gossage was a nine-time All-Star who pitched for nine major
league teams from 1972-94 and had 310 saves -- 52 of them when he
got seven outs or more. By comparison, Mariano Rivera has one and
Trevor Hoffman two.

"It was go as hard as I could for as long as I could, and the
jams that I came into were always so exciting," Gossage said. "I
felt the more difficult the situation, the better I was."

He spent six seasons with the New York Yankees and is likely to
go into the Hall wearing a Yankees cap. He won his only World
Series title with them in 1978.

"The biggest game that I ever pitched in on any team by far was
that '78 playoff game with the Red Sox," he said. "It seemed like
the playoffs after that and the World Series were kind of
anticlimactic because of the pressure that was in that one-game
playoff."

Rice, who flied out with runners on against Gossage in the
eighth and ninth innings of that game, will appear on the writers'
ballot for the 15th and final time next year, when career steals
leader Rickey Henderson will be among the newcomers. The highest
percentage for a player who wasn't elected in a later year was 63.4
by Gil Hodges in 1983, his final time on the ballot.

The last player elected in his final year on the BBWAA ballot
was Ralph Kiner in 1975.

"I think Jim Rice does belong in the Hall of Fame," Gossage
said. "No hitter scared me, but Jim Rice came the closest."

Andre Dawson was third with 358 votes (65.9 percent), followed
by Bert Blyleven at 336 (61.9 percent), Lee Smith at 235 (43.3
percent) and Jack Morris at 233 (42.9 percent).

"We as players that are on the bubble can have opinions, and it
does really no good to vent or get angry because it's out of our
hands," said Blyleven, whose percentage rose from 47.7 last year.
"I know Goose vented a little bit last year, and Jim Rice will
probably vent this year. I have four more years. For some reason
they make some of these guys like Gossage and Bruce Sutter wait.
Like Goose said, he's not going to save any more games."

Tim Raines topped the 11 newcomers on the ballot, receiving 132
votes (24.3 percent). All the others appearing for the first time
fell below the 5 percent necessary to remain on the ballot next
year.

Gossage will be inducted July 27 in Cooperstown, joined by five
men elected last month by the revamped Veterans Committee: former
commissioner Bowie Kuhn, former Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley,
managers Dick Williams and Billy Southworth and ex-Pirates owner
Barney Dreyfuss.

Williams managed Gossage on the San Diego Padres, helping them
win the 1984 NL pennant.

"There isn't anybody I'd rather go in with than Dick
Williams," said Gossage, who spoke with his former manager right
after getting the news.